Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme launched

The Marshall Liberal Government is in the final stages of launching the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme trial, a key election commitment in the Government’s suite of policies to help prevent domestic violence across the state.

The Scheme, which officially takes applications on 2 October 2018, aims to help people who may be at risk of domestic violence find out if their current or former partner has a history violence, or other relevant offences.

Out of 23 convictions for homicide last year in South Australia, 10 were related to domestic violence, a staggering statistic and one the State Government wants to see rapidly decline.

While men are also reported to be victims, statistically, SAPOL data shows that the majority - about 80% - of victims of domestic violence are women, and a high proportion of perpetrators are partners or former partners.   

The one-year state-wide trial of the South Australia’s Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) involves South Australia Police and the Office for Women and Women’s Safety Services SA.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said domestic and family violence was a pattern of abuse that escalated over time, in both severity and frequency.

“Similar trials in the UK and NSW show that – even if only one victim is saved – it is a worthwhile initiative,” Ms Chapman said.

“If people at risk are able to access information in relation to their partner’s history of violence earlier on in the cycle then they are in a better position to make decisions about their ongoing safety and relationship; and what supports they need.”

“This in turn can prevent them and their children from having to bear the consequences of the violence and abuse they experience by having to leave their home, job or school community. It also sends a powerful message to our community that violence and abuse will not be tolerated,” Ms Chapman said.

Michelle Lensink, Minister for Human Services said this scheme will help those people in our community who may not know where to find help.

“This scheme will help bridge the gaps for those in our community who feel they do not know where to go and give them the tools to be able to ask for help in a safe and caring environment,” Minister Lensink said.

Assistant Minister Carolyn Power said this trial will attempt to prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place.

“We all know prevention is key in domestic violence and this Scheme will bring together some of the best institutions we have across our State to help prevent Domestic Violence occurring right at the start of the cycle,” Mrs Power said.

“One of the key strengths of our DVDS is that regardless of whether there is a violent history to disclose, the applicant will be connected with domestic violence specialist services and receive support.” 

A third party can also make an application for a disclosure to be made by police to the person they perceive to be at risk of harm.

Acting Chief Superintendent Mark Wieszyk today welcomed the 12-month trial program, adding that anything that contributes to making the community safer is an important step forward.

“We believe that this scheme, as part of a suite of changes, will assist in making the public safer.

“Information and education are crucial components of the wider community conversation about the prevention of domestic violence.

“Police have a significant role to play in that process, but we recognise that we are just one facet of this important change in behaviour in our society.

The trial, which goes live next Tuesday aligns with the ongoing state-wide consultation around stronger domestic and family violence protections and other Government domestic violence policies.